Sunday, November 6, 2011

Obligatory TRPBTNTWA Post

Enough people answered these questions(http://monstersandmanuals.blogspot.com/2011/11/trpbtntwas.html) that it's become a sort of meme, so I figured I'd join in!

Book binding. (I can't be the only person who bemoans the way new rulebooks tend to fall apart like a sheaf of dry leaves after about 5 seconds of use).

I haven't noticed new rulebooks being any more or less fragile than old ones, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm hardly an aficionado of such things. All my tabletop books are falling apart in some way or other!

"Doing a voice". How many people "do voices"? Should they? How do you get better at "doing a voice" if that's your thing?
I do voices when I feel like it, but find that it's far more important to use figures or speech and interesting syntax if you want the NPC to be noteworthy. Whether you curse or not, use contractions or not, and what turns of phrase come up in conversation are going to be way more memorable and help tell the story of the character, I feel! Although, if you give the Castle Chef a REALLY bad french accent, the players might come up with their own stories, like that the chef is actually Orcus in disguise!

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?
I've never had scheduled breaks during sessions, and typically only run 4-5 hour long sessions. On the other hand, I run a very loose table where out of character tangents can go on for longer than some people would like. If I ran a tighter table, I think scheduled breaks would be an absolute must! After all, you're seeing some of these people only once a week with any regularity.

Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
Not very. Over the years, I've found that as amazing as much as I love florid descriptions and prose in literature, in-game, it will generally lead to glazed-over eyes and blank stares. On top of this, generally while you're still describing the exquisitely sculpted bas-relief in bronze-gilt marble, your players are probably interrupting to ask if they can pull the lever you mentioned in the first four sentences! Less is more, but you have to be careful not to forget dressings that might be important to party plans like windows, double doors, tables, torches, etc.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?
Usually when there's a bunch of frowns on the other player's faces and they're not saying anything in-character, someone is being a dick head. It's important for players to be able to talk out what they're comfortable with at the table, because every group will be different. I have my own feelings on what I don't want to see in the game, but sometimes I'm willing to stretch them if the players all want something really badly!

PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
I've let it happen in the past, and I've also forbidden it entirely(your weapon passes through the other player character as if they aren't there) and usually tried to gauge it by what players say to each other and to me during/before/after games. Unfortunately, that doesn't always work, so I've come to the conclusion that it's probably best to only allow it when everyone that it could affect(probably the entire table) agrees that it's okay. There's something to be said for letting everyone at the table decide on uncomfortable things like that. The same rule would also apply well to uncomfortable subjects such as ultra violence, sexual situations, and fetishy stuff. It's best to keep anything out of the game that isn't unanimously agreed to be all right!

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?
I generally describe it as an improv game where you make up a personality and act out what the persona will do in a world of the gamemaster's creation. I've never had problems getting random strangers to join for at least a single game, so I think this must not sound too nerdy to random strangers, haha! A lot of one-session players have derailed the action when they get "drunk with freedom" and this usually leads to extended bathing scenes, jumping through windows/into the ocean and hitting on people in the bar as a different gendered character than the player. Not that there's anything wrong with this!

Alchohol at the table?
Beer and weak stuff(wine coolers/hard lemonades/etc) are fine. You'd have to work pretty hard to get wasted in 4 hours on that stuff!

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are
there some limits?

Typically, their character is off screen handling some "personal business" and when they return they can make up what happened.(Pie eating competition/went on a date/had to take care of a baby/etc) I've been thinking lately of adopting an approach more in line with the 1st edition DMG, though, where in-game days pass one for one with out of game days whenever nothing dramatic is happening. I think this would allow more believability when a character is "off screen" In special cases, I'll NPC the character, but that's just for latecomers. If a character died while the player was busy(especially if they were sick or something), it'd be really depressing for them! Better just to let them be hand-waved away until the player can show up next time.

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